Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Simple Pleasures

Until recently, I had held the line on not having video games in our home. With the exception of an occasional visit to the Lego or Disney website, my kids had really not played video games. Caving to their convincing argument of "Mom, you'd really like Wii Fit," I gave in and let the kids get a Wii for Christmas. I do like the Wii, and I especially enjoy Wii Fit or Dance Dance Revolution when no one else is in the room.

Yet, all my concerns about video games were confirmed yesterday when Car Guy didn't want to go outside to play on an absolutely gorgeous sixty-five degree day because he wanted to sit inside and play Wii instead. After shuffling the kiddos outside and telling them not to come back in the house until I called them, I was thrilled to look out the window a few minutes later to see them sword-fighting with Star Wars light sabers. It wasn't the fencing I was excited about, but that they were acting out Eragon which Car Guy and his dad just finished reading.

My issue with video games relates to my worry that children are missing out on the simple pleasure of imaginative play amidst all the high-tech toys that offer instant feedback along with lots of bells and whistles. There is such a childlike innocence displayed when a child is building a castle with his blocks, creating a sculpture with his Legos, or pretending to be a character in his favorite book. My kids have a long history of dressing up and playing pretend. My daughter dressed up in all my old tutus from dance recitals when she was little and even dressed her brother in some, too, before he was too old to protest. For the past year or two, Car Guy has spent many days in superhero and cowboy costumes, tossing in some favorite book characters for good measure. A week or two ago, he even wanted the family to call him Odysseus in homage to the hero he learned about as we read a child's version of the Odyssey together. My favorite pretend period of his was the Alex-the-Lion stage, though. After seeing the movie Madagascar a few years ago, Car Guy acted like Alex the Lion for several weeks. He would even make himself a "cage" out of pillows and insist that family members pretend to throw him meat. It sounds strange, but it was really very funny. Maybe that's why he calls himself a "meatatarian" these days.

You know what, it's not only kids that have lost the enjoyment of simple pleasures, though. I freely admit that I don't take time to enjoy things. I love to read, but rarely take the time to lose myself in a book. I adore my family, but am so busy taking care of them that I don't always take time to enjoy them. I really want to learn to make bread from scratch- I mean a great baguette with a hard crust and soft center. My parents even gave me a bread cookbook recently for my birthday, so I am feeling a bit of pressure to put it to use. But bread takes so much time . . . I can, however, just picture myself settling in with a great baguette, some brie, a glass of wine, and a juicy novel. Perhaps that will be my resolution for this year:

Enjoy the simple pleasures of life- family, freshly-baked bread, leisurely sipping a glass of wine, and losing myself in a great book.

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